Netflix has revealed its first look at Jordan Peele and Henry Selick’s upcoming stop-motion movie, “Wendell & Wild.” The film is Selick’s first feature in 13 years, and based on the trailer, it looks like he hasn’t missed a spooky step. While the film recognizes the importance of having representation in mainstream animated features it also celebrates the Afropunk culture with Kat (Lyric Ross), a Black punk rock teenage girl who can summon demons, as the lead.
The script is penned by Peele and Selick and based on Selick and McLeod Chapman’s unpublished book of the same name. In the film, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as the titular characters, two demon brothers who befriend Kat Elliot — a tough teen with a load of guilt — to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other. This animated fantasy defies the law of life and death, all told through the handmade artistry of stop motion.
Selick, who is no stranger to horror-inspired family-friendly stop-motion films, was partially inspired to direct the film because of his two sons. They are grown-ups now but as kids they had their angelic as well as demon moments. “Once they were acting demon-like, I did a sketch of them, and from this sketch, I got this idea of a story about demon brothers, not as little kids though as older demons,” he said.
Inspired by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s sketch comedy show “Key and Peele,” Selick reached out to the two to collaborate on a project. “They had a type of comedy, I’m not known for comedy, but I’d like to have some of that on a project,” Selick said. And it turns out that Peele had heard of Selick and was a fan of his work and stop-motion animation. The logo for his company Monkey Paw Products is a stop motion animation.
Selick met with Jordan who had asked him to pitch some ideas. “The first one up was ‘Wendell & Wild,” and that’s the one he sparked to. That led to an amazing collaboration. It took a long time to get it up and off the ground.” Peele loved the idea and wanted to be a producer and wanted to be creatively involved as well.”
Afropunk is a subject that has always been near and dear to Selik. In 1985 he directed a music video for “Party at Ground Zero” by afro-punk icons Fishbone. Much of the look and feel of the film pulls from the real-life Afropunk movement. “Afropunk is cultural, fashion, and musical and has been around for maybe ten years,” Selick said. “It’s sort of younger people reconnecting to early black punk groups then celebrating in modern fashions and musical tastes, but it is this bridge between the late 70s/1980s black punk music which there was quite a lot, with this modern take on that type of music with new and amazing fashions it became initially sort an idea for a look for Kat in the film.”
“Kat would be influenced by this, but then it became something bigger,” Selick added. “It became this strong connection between her and her father, that it turns out she’s not so much a rebel but as someone who loved her dad, who was in the first wave of black punk music.”
“I was floored by how insanely creative and beautiful some of the looks and costumes and attitudes are,” Selick added. “It’s an outsider group, it’s never been a mainstream thing, and that spoke to me and Jordan.”
Wendell & Wild is set to have its world premiere at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2022 and is scheduled to be released in select theaters on October 21, 2022. It then makes its streaming debut, exclusively on Netflix, on October 28, 2022.